NATO Naval Task Group en route to escort duties off Somali coast
Mons, Belgium — Three NATO ships, part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) – separated from the main SNMG2 group and are en route to the East African coast responding to the UN Secretary General’s request for NATO to escort merchant ships carrying World Food Programme (WFP) cargo.
The three NATO ships, part of Operation ALLIED PROVIDER, will begin escort duties and establish a naval presence in the area as a deterrent to piracy upon arrival. The three Operation Allied Provider ships are:
ITS Durand de la Penne (flagship, Italy)
HS Themistokles (Greece)
HMS Cumberland (United Kingdom)
During the course of the operation, WFP escort ships will provide close protection while those NATO ships providing a deterrent presence will patrol various routes most susceptible to criminal acts against merchant vessels. NATO ships may use force pursuant to the authorised Rules of Engagement and in compliance with relevant international and national law.
After the North Atlantic Council (NAC) agreed to the UN Secretary General’s request, NATO military elements immediately began planning to redirect assets of SNMG2, already underway as part of an out of area deployment to promote practical military cooperation with the countries of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), to the escort/deterrence task off the Somali coast.
“NATO’s ability to quickly react to the UN’s request for support demonstrates NATO’s military flexibility to respond to real security challenges on the seas as well as on the land, and in the air,” said General John Craddock, Supreme Allied Commander Europe. “It signifies NATO’s continued relevance and willingness to ‘step in’ and ‘step up’ to threats of all descriptions – in this case the persistent threat of piracy.”
The remaining four SNMG2 ships – FGS Karlsruhe (Germany), FGS Rhön (Germany), TCG Gokova (Turkey), and USS The Sullivans (USA) – will continue on the out-of-area deployment to ICI nations, notable for being the first time a NATO-flagged force deploys to the Gulf.